AstraZeneca shots resume in Europe but some wait

I always knew it was safe, says this retiree, getting his AstraZeneca jab in a Paris pharmacy. People are panicking, but there are always some side effects.

That view was echoed by many inEuropean capitals Friday (March 19), as the continent pushed to get its COVID-19 vaccination drive back on track after EU and British regulators said the benefits of AstraZeneca's shot outweighed any risks.

Next comes a test of public confidence.

At least 13 countries in Europe suspended or delayed use this week after reports of blood clots and bleeding prompted an investigation.

Germany also resumed the shots on Friday, as cases there rise after an ease in restrictions.

Spain and the Netherlands will restart next week.

A few countries still have caveats.

Even as Prime Minister Jean Castex had the AstraZeneca shot, declaring he "couldn't feel a thing," France said it would limit its use to over-55s, fearing blood clots were more likely in younger people.

And Lithuania will let people choose their vaccine, in a possible litmus test of sentiment.

Both Denmark and Sweden are holding off, saying they need more time to make a decision.

AstraZeneca's vaccine is seen as an important weapon against COVID due to its relatively easy storage and transport, and low price compared to others available.

Europe's leaders say they need to accelerate vaccinations, with deaths in the EU surpassing half a million and less than a tenth of the bloc's population inoculated.

Germany's health minister warned aren't enough vaccines to contain a third wave of infections, as signs are growing that one is imminent.

Paris imposed a a new lockdown that comes into force at midnight on Friday, prompting residents to flock to railway stations to get out of the city.

It's due to last for a month.